Police have arrested six journalists at Makerere University who had been invited to cover a story of foreign students who are still locked down at the university reportedly under deplorable conditions.
The journalists are Sanya Emmanuel Mango, Grace Namubiru, and Godwin Kaiza all of Record TV, Muyingo Joseph of Delta TV, Jaliat Namuwaya of Bukedde TV and Muhumuza Edward of NTV.
The journalists got a tip from one of the student leaders in the university that there are some foreign students who are in a bad state without food and efforts to reach out to the university administration to help them failed as they were informed that the university was closed and therefore not responsible. The student leaders decided to call journalists to cover the story to highlight the plight of the students.
“We had gone to interview the students only to be arrested by the Officer in Charge of Makerere University Police Post and later taken to Wandegeya Police Station. Our phones were confiscated before we were whisked away to Wandegeya. Police station,” Sanya told HRNJ-Uganda.
When the Division Police Commander(DPC) of Wandegeya Police Station Odong Samuel was contacted by HRNJ-Uganda, he said “I got information from my OC who had intercepted them as they were covering continuing students who organized a press conference at the university without the knowledge of the administration”
He said that the police cautioned the journalists and asked them to always inform the police authorities when covering such cases.
The journalists who were arrested at about noon were released from the police after about two hours without any charges. Their phones were returned but never allowed to follow up on the story at the University.
HRNJ-Uganda has documented cases of over 20 Journalists who have been attacked in the line of duty since the lockdown imposed by the government as a strategy to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic despite the permission given to journalists to continue working as part of the essential service providers.
“It’s sad that the police went on to arrest this group of journalists in the line of duty with the sole aim of foiling their coverage to highlight the plight of the students. This is not the first time of such actions at the University at the hands of the police. The police must stop interfering with the media covering news from the University. HRNJ-UGANDA will support the victimised journalists to legally take on the implicated security officers,” said the HRNJ-UGANDA Executive Director, Robert Ssempala